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Cost of hatchling turtles' dash for freedom
Date:12/11/2008

switching to a 'doggy paddle' as they came up for air before returning to frenzied front-flipper swimming. But as time drew on, the youngsters' activity slowed. They spent more time doggy paddling and less time pulling with their front flippers until they eventually began taking the odd break after about 12 hours.

The youngsters' progress was also reflected in the force with which they tugged on the force transducer. Setting off with a thrust of 45milliNewtons, the swimmers' thrust rapidly dropped to 35milliNewtons during the first half hour, continuing to fall more gradually over the next 10 hours before levelling off at 20milliNewtons about 12 hours after embarking.

Analysing the hatchlings' oxygen consumption, Booth found the same trend with oxygen consumption falling rapidly during the first half hour, before declining more slowly and eventually levelling off after 12 hours. So what does this mean for a young turtle as it thrashes to safety?

Calculating the amount of energy that the hatchlings consumed during their 18hours swim (4.79kiloJoule), Booth realised that the turtles carry almost 10 times as much energy in their yolk remnants as they needed to reach safety. So the youngsters aren't at risk of running out of energy before making it to safety, and Booth suspect that they can probably survive 14 days in the open ocean before finding food.


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Contact: Kathryn Phillips
kathryn@biologists.com
44-012-234-25525
The Company of Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

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